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Coach knows Glasgow loss would dent Israel’s World Cup qualification hopes

Willibald Ruttensteiner
(Image credit: Ronnie Esplin)

Israel coach Willi Ruttensteiner believes defeat to Scotland on Saturday will see the hosts all but secure a 2022 World Cup qualifying play-off spot.

After six fixtures and ahead of the double-header against Israel and then Faroe Islands away, Steve Clarke’s men are seven points behind runaway Group F leaders Denmark, one ahead of Israel and four ahead of Austria.

This will be the fifth game against Israel in the past year and the last two occasions Ruttensteiner’s side have visited Glasgow – in the Nations League and the 2020 Euro finals play-off semi-final – the matches were played behind closed doors due to Covid restrictions.

However, this time Hampden Park will be packed with almost 50,000 of the Tartan Army.

“We feel right at home here,” said Ruttensteiner at Hampden, before explaining why he thinks Scotland will have the advantage.

“It feels like a different game. The first thing is the stadium will be full.

“It is totally different to the other two games here, the Nations League and the semi-final play-off.

“It will be an advantage for Scotland having a full crowd.

“The second thing is, everybody knows it, it is totally clear, if Scotland win the  game I think they will be second (in the group).

“If it is a draw it will be exciting until the end.

“If we can win the game then we will only have the butter on the bread, not more.

“It is a little different for Scotland, (if they go) four points in front of us and more points in front of Austria, then I would say Scotland will be in second place.”

Indeed, Ruttensteiner believes Israel, who drew 1-1 with Scotland in Tel Aviv earlier in the section, have nothing to lose in Glasgow.

The Austrian said: “I don’t know if we are able to beat Scotland.

“They are the clear favourites. It is a football nation with a tradition and an amazing history.

“There are players in the Scotland side who play in the Premier League. It is always a great challenge for us.

“We are placed 80th in the rankings but you can lose in football so this is perhaps our chance, we can on only win something here.

“All over Europe they will say, if Israel is in front of Scotland at the end, then it is a  big success.

“But on the other hand I will say for my team, their performance got them in this position and I am really proud of my team and our ability to attack is not bad.

“We are so prepared for this game and I think we are strong.”